Tuesday, August 24, 2010

You Can Simplify More Than Just Fractions!

So for the past who-knows-how-long, I have just not been very happy. I've felt unfulfilled, restless, anxious, and stressed. And I think the reason for all of that was because I've been focusing on a lot of different activities and priorities, and I haven’t been very focused on what I love most. After reading a few inspiring blogs, I made a short list of what I love most, and I am going to work on getting rid of everything else that didn’t make that list.

So, I’ve started to simplify my life by getting rid of the extra stuff that just stresses me out! This has actually been going on for a while, but I didn’t even realize it. Before, I was basically focused on cutting out unnecessary spending, but looking back, I realized that this was actually simplifying my financial life.

One of the first things I did earlier this year was down-grade my cell phone. I used to have a Verizon plan that I only used about 15% of the minutes each month. I really don’t talk on the phone that much, I mostly keep in touch through emails. So, I switched to a phone where I pay by the minute. Not only did I down-grade the plan, but now my phone is just a phone! No camera, no downloaded ringtones, no internet. Basically, all it does is make/receive calls and it can still text message. A bonus about this phone is it is made from recycled materials and is also easily disassembled for recycling at the end of it's life. Plus, it came with a pre-paid envelope to send in my old phone for recycling! The only downside is I was unable to keep the phone number I’ve had since I was 16, but I’m starting to get used to it.

The next financial simplification involved Chaz. We finally got rid of his car at the beginning on the summer! We bought his BMW back in 2007 at the same time as we were buying our house. Looking back, that was a really dumb idea! The car itself wasn’t necessarily the financial drain, it was mostly the interest rate on the loan that was ridiculous. We were basically paying all this extra money for nothing. So, he listed it on a Craigslist, and in less than a week, it was sold! What a relief that was! So for a while, we were a single car family. It worked for us because we work less than a mile from each other, so we were able to carpool to work. Then, we were lucky enough that my mom decided to sell us her old Taurus for extremely cheap, so we still don’t have a car-payment! The other expenses that this elimated were full-coverage car insurance, and the pricey upkeep of the BMW! It feels great to be car-payment free!

Since the idea of complete simplification struck me, we started working on getting rid of the clutter in our house and garage. In our years together, we have just accumulated so much “stuff.” And most of it is stuff we don’t really need! So last night, we brought a car-full of stuff to Goodwill to donate. That barely made a dent in the clutter, but it was a start. We plan to go through our basement soon and remove a bunch more junk.

And finally, I did the unthinkable to move towards simplification. I cancelled our cable!!! When we first moved into our house, we had Digital Cable with HDTV, a premium sports package, HBO, Encore, Showtime, and DVR. When the economy took a downturn and both Chaz and I took paycuts, we downgraded to what we thought "we couldn't live without" - which was only Digital Cable with HDTV and DVR.

Now that I am focusing on what I love most, I realized, we can live without cable TV. It is really a time drain for both of us. The TV is currently on from the time I get home from work, until I go to bed at night. I’m not always watching it, but I do get sucked into it and it takes away from the time I could spend being productive around the house, or quality time Chaz and I could be spending together. By ridding TV from our lives, it would free up so much more time. So I just wanted it all gone!

Well, I called Comcast today and said I want to cancel my entire cable package. Of course, they tried pressuring me into other packages, thinking that it was only financial reasons behind my cancelling. I tried to explain to them that I just wanted to eliminate TV because it was just a distraction. Unfortunately, it was actually less expensive to keep the very basic package of only local channels because it gave us a discount on our internet connection. So, there will still be a little bit of distraction left around. But since we’ve gone from getting 100+ channels to getting 10 channels, hopefully we won’t be drawn towards the TV as much!

There is still a lot more in my life that I need to simplify, so this is just a start for now! I'm looking forward to my journey of simplification and focusing on what I love most!

"Everything we possess that is not necessary for life or happiness becomes a burden, and scarcely a day passes that we do not add to it."
~Robert Brault